The USS Laffey (DD-724) was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer laid down on June 28, 1943, as DD-724 and launched on November 21, the same year. It was commissioned the first time on February 8, 1944, under Commander Frederick Becton’s command and served in the US Navy for 31 years until it was decommissioned for the last time on March 9, 1975. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 336 people on board and had its main missions in Bermuda, Scotland, Cherbourg, Korea, and Tokyo. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Naval Register and sunken as a target. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Laffey received 5 battle stars and 2 for Korea.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was treasured by the U.S. Navy for its heat and fire-resistant properties, tensile strength, and sound absorption. Thousands of Navy veterans came into contact with asbestos from insulation aboard ships. Never warned and unaware that the materials they were handling contained a hazardous mineral, they unwittingly poisoned themselves by breathing invisible asbestos fibers.